A new partnership between the University of Arizona School of Natural Resources and the Environment and the Alpi Cozie Natural Parks, near Torino, Italy, aims to improve rangeland management through the international exchange of knowledge and research.
Rangeland and grassland ecosystems provide important habitat for plants, insects and animals, and support the livelihood of thousands of small business livestock producers in the U.S. and Europe. The European Union encourages grazing in these ecosystems because it is vital to maintaining biodiversity in alpine pastures.
A memorandum of understanding between Alpi Cozie Natural Parks and the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, in the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, was signed in March.
Mitch McClaran, professor of range management and associate director of the Arizona Experiment Station, will work closely with staff members at the Alpi Cozie Natural Parks to establish field and database activities that will benefit the future planning, implementation, and evaluation of research and management projects in the parks.
McClaran, who is also affiliated with the UA Institute of the Environment, will work closely with Alessandra Gorlier, who recently joined the School of Natural Resources and the Environment as a senior research specialist. Gorlier has more than 20 years of research experience in the Piemonte and the Alpi Cozie areas.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to learn new tools and approaches to range management at the University of Arizona, and to share those with the Alpi Cozie Natural Parks to help them manage these precious resources," Gorlier said. “Before moving to Tucson, I had the pleasure of collaborating with the parks on a project to use livestock grazing to conserve and restore natural habitats protected by the European Union.”
"Without Alessandra, this partnership would not have been possible," said McClaran, who is a fellow in the Society for Range Management and charter member of the Cardon Academy for Teaching Excellence in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "I look forward to learning more about the parks and sharing that knowledge with students from the University of Arizona."
UA students will benefit from enhanced research and educational opportunities as early as this summer. In June, McClaran and Gorlier will lead a UA Study Abroad program in Italy. Students will learn about biodiversity, livestock grazing and local food in the Alpi Cozie Natural Parks and Gran Paradiso National Park.
McClaran has focused on teaching and research related to the sustainable use of rangeland resources since joining the UA in 1986. Working in Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyons national parks and at the UA Santa Rita Experimental Range, McClaran conducts research that provides a deeper understanding of long-term vegetation responses to cattle grazing, drought, fire and invasive species.